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Terror Attack in Paris; Terror Attack in London; Trump Contradicts Lawyers; Russia Threatens U.S. Jets; Spicer Holds Press Briefing. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired June 19, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:04] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Here we go. Top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
We begin today with breaking news. Two terror attacks just hours apart from one another in London and Paris. First, let's talk France. This driver deliberately ramming a police van on the iconic Champs-Elysees Boulevard. We're told this man actually had explosives and weapons inside the car. This is the fifth time in four months that security forces have come under attack in Paris.
So let's go straight to our correspondent there. Melissa Bell is standing by.
And so from what I've read from one of the lead investigators, he had enough weapons and explosive to blow up his car, Melissa.
MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Kate, that was confirmed earlier on by France's interior minister, who visited the scene down here. I'll just give - show you what's going on down there on the Champs-Elysees behind me. The bottom half of the Champs-Elysees. You can still clearly see that car, the white car, that the man drove down the Champs-Elysees overtaking a police convoy and ramming it twice, we've now learned, into that police truck.
Now, inside that car were both weapons and enough explosive to blow it up. So this could have been, of course, worse still than it was. As it happens, no one was wounded or killed apart from the assailant who died shortly after the attack took place.
And as you mentioned, this is another in a series of attacks we've seen, an anti-terror investigation has been opened, the fifth in just a few months. And, again, security services targeted, again, one of Paris' high-profile, highly touristic areas targeted. And in what has really seemed or come to seem to be a series of almost suicide attacks, what else can these individuals be expecting than to - in the end, once they're faced with these security forces, be taken out in the act of what they're doing.
But, yes, explosive found in the car and what it seems to be is an attempt at least of having rammed the police vehicle in the hope that his car would explode. That, thankfully, did not happen.
BALDWIN: All right, Melissa, thank you so much, in Paris.
The Paris attack coming right on the heels of a similar assault in London. One person is dead and ten are injured after a van rammed worshippers just after midnight when evening Ramadan prayers were over. This is the second terror attack in London in just three weeks. This is the Finsbury Park area. Police say a man is being held on terror related charges in what they call, quote, "clearly an attack on Muslins."
Nic Robertson is live for us in London.
And so, Nic, tell me more about what part of London this was and what we know about this man.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, a 47-year-old man in the northwest of London, a mixed neighborhood, if you will, a neighborhood that's - that has had trouble at that mosque a long way in the past when it had a different imam there, Abu Hamza (ph), known as the hook imam because they'd brown his hands off, they were hooks. He was prosecuted for radicalizing people. That was a long time ago, back around the time of 2001, the 9/11 attacks. Today, it is a mosque that preaches moderation, that preaches tolerance, has no connections to any type of terrorism. So for the worshipers at that mosque last night, this came as an utter shock.
There has been spikes and a rise in Islamophobic attacks. The British prime minister, today, talked about cracking down on all types of extremism, including Islamophobia. She said she would be starting up a new extremism unit that would worked to cut out extremism the same way that the government here and the police services cut out racism in this country. So that - that is her resign (ph).
But this man, as far as we know, rented this van, is appears to be a rental van, and drove it into these - drove it into people as they were leaving the mosque in the middle of the night. He was wrestled to the ground by people who were attending the mosque. They held him there until the police arrived. The police attended within a minute of getting the phone call, declared it a terrorism incident after eight minutes, according to the prime minister. And additional police are going to b put on the streets around mosques this time because it's Ramadan and because there is a real effort here to create a sense of security for Britain's Muslim community. They feel to a degree under threat, in part because of the reaction to other attacks here.
BALDWIN: Nic Robertson, thank you so much. Eight people have been in the hospital. All Muslim, we're told. Thank you.
Now to the continuing contradiction coming out of the White House about this Russia investigation. Moments ago, the president kept silent about it in a photo-op with the president of Panama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Mr. President, are you under investigation by the special counsel? Mr. President, are you under investigation by the special counsel? (END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: That is in contrast to what his personal attorney has been has all over TV today. Once again Jay Sekulow went against the president's own words in regards to what Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating. Sekulow repeated that President Trump is not under investigation despite the president's tweet Friday saying, quote, "I am being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director. Witch Hunt." Although we heard a little later on Friday that that was apparently based upon the news report and not because he directly knows he's being investigated.
[14:05:22] Here's more now. Sekulow would not explain why he wasn't taking a simple step to actually clear things up. Here's his conversation with my colleague this morning, Chris Cuomo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": If you're going to spend so much time on this, why don't you pick up the phone and get the answer and then you could actually say, yes, I asked Mueller, he said, no, I'm not. We're not looking at this. Why don't you pick up the phone?
JAY SEKULOW, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S LAWYER: We have a lot of lawyers in this case. I'm just - look, you're asking me to pick up the phone on an investigation that right now we don't know exists.
CUOMO: No, I'm not. You know - of course you know it's exists.
SEKULOW: So I'm not - you know, that's illegal (ph).
CUOMO: You know Mueller's looking at this. Why didn't you just pick up the phone and find out if it matters so much to the president whether or not he's being looked at.
SEKULOW: Well, you - you know, but you - you know the difference between - you know this because you practiced law.
CUOMO: Find out.
SEKULOW: You know there's a difference between investigations, inquiries. I mean there's a whole series of matters you look at before you get to the level of investigation.
CUOMO: But, I'm saying, you could get the answer.
SEKULOW: I don't know what they're doing. I haven't made that call. That's the end of that - that line of inquiry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: All right, let's start there. Live with me now, Lanny Davis, who was once a White House counsel under President Clinton. And after he left the White House, he became known as the lead outside surrogate for the - for Clinton (INAUDIBLE) impeachment process. He wrote the book, "Truth to Tell: Tell it Early, Tell it All, Tell it Yourself, Notes from my White House Education." So he's with us. Also with us, CNN's senior political commentator, Rick Santorum. He is a former Republican U.S. senator from Pennsylvania.
So, gentlemen, welcome to both of you.
And, Lanny, to you first. You know, apparently Jay Sekulow is being called the Lanny Davis for Donald Trump. I don't know if you're aware of that and you can - you can comment in a second. But, you know, you have all of these contradictions coming out. He's going off on the morning shows. You tell me what you would be doing differently.
LANNY DAVIS, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ATTORNEY UNDER BILL CLINTON: Well, first of all, I'm going to ruin his reputation at the White House. I've known Jay for a number of years and we've debated on his radio show and he's always civil, just as Senator Santorum is. So it's possible to disagree and still be civil.
He's got a tough position because of the tweet. If President Trump said, I had the feeling that reading "The Washington Post" I might be under investigation, that would be accurate for President Trump. Why he would want to tweet what he did is the problem. And I sympathize with my old friend Jay. He's a great lawyer who has to defend what is in effect a contradiction in the message that he is truthfully saying, is we have no knowledge there's an investigation formally for Mr. Mueller. He's not notified us. And I can't explain my client's statement other than he has a sensation, a feeling that he's under investigation reading "The Washington Post." But that's not what he put on 140 characters.
BALDWIN: Right. Right. And, senator, similar to you. You know, watching Sekulow come out, you know, it seems like he's sent out by the president to do TV, to be this fighter, to come out swinging. Do you, though, do you see it as a winning strategy for them?
RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I don't think it's a winning strategy when you're debating these types of issues, instead of debating the issues that got him elected and the American public really cares about. That's not to say that he shouldn't, you know, do what he needs to do from a legal point of view, and certainly politically, you know, bat down things that are not true. But he's not - as Lanny said, he doesn't help himself when he put out a tweet which, you know, if - if at the end of that tweet there would have been a question mark as opposed to an exclamation point, which is, you know, I'm being investigated? I mean, this is ridiculous that I'm - now they're saying I'm being investigated for this? I think that was the tone. But, again, in 140 characters, you don't - you don't get context. And there was no context in this. And fighting this battle right now, trying to do - trying to wage war with Bob Mueller right now, I just - I - he needs to move on and focus on jobs and the economy and national security. There's a lot going on in the world and he needs to focus on that.
BALDWIN: So they've got this cloud that is Russia, as we've been talking about now for a while, hanging over the White House. Lanny, help clear this up, because I know a lot of people are watching and thinking, well, this is the president, how does he know, how does he not know? It's from my understanding that there is absolutely no obligate by the special counsel, by Bob Mueller, you know, to say to Trump or the Trump circumstance, you know, whether he actually is under investigation. You know but - but if the president, Lanny, if the president wants to find out if he is in fact under investigation, what's the process for him to do so?
DAVIS: Well, he asked Jim Comey, and I think Comey's responding to the question was inappropriate because, as the head of the FBI, he's not in a position to advise the president. It's only the Justice Department. So Mr. Comey had a problem with seeing the distinction between himself as an investigator and the people he's supposed to report to at the Justice Department.
[14:10:05] So there is no process. The president should not be asking his attorney general, or Mr. Mueller, the special counsel. He should let, quite frankly, listen to wise Republicans, like former Senator Santorum, and focus on what the American people care about, and let Mr. Mueller do his job.
Now, if he's worried about his own involvement, then that will or won't be found out by Mr. Mueller. I can assure you, the truth will come out. But what he needs to do is focus on what people care about, and I don't think it's about his Twitter account and I sympathize with Jay Sekulow about that Twitter account.
BALDWIN: But - but how do you - but, Lanny, but how do you handle that if your client is the president of the United States who has a propensity to tweet and he himself cannot come out and punch back, so he puts the - Jay Sekulow out there to do so. What do you do if you're Jay Sekulow and you're talking to the president of the United States?
DAVIS: I have simply for Jay. I did work for President Clinton. And there was no Twitter account in those days. But if there were, President Clinton was a lawyer. He was very smart. And that he knew when he came to work in the middle of a lot of his controversies what the American people wanted was for him to do his job. Despite everything he went through, and I know Senator Santorum loves me to say this, he left office on his last day, despite everything, with a 65 percent approval rating because he achieved peace and prosperity and jobs. And that's what Donald Trump should be focusing on. He may not be able to. As a Democrat, I only wish any president success because it's about the whole country. He's not helping any of us by the way he's conducting himself on Twitter.
BALDWIN: I think that was -
SANTORUM: I think there's a - Brooke, there's a lesson to be learned from Bill Clinton -
BALDWIN: Go ahead, senator.
SANTORUM: For Donald Trump, which is, you know -
BALDWIN: What's that? SANTORUM: Bill Clinton was impeached. Now, he wasn't convicted, but he was impeached. And he survived impeachment because impeachment is a political process because he was still popular. He was doing things and delivering a stronger economy and a reduced - a reduced deficit, and he was conducting his affairs as president through this very difficult time. He stayed focused and, you know, as Lanny will tell you, I mean we worked on - on trying to get Social Security reform in the middle of all this. I mean we were trying to do big things even through this very difficult time. And that's how he survived and that's how he remained popular. The message to Donald Trump is -
BALDWIN: So your point is, Mr. President, get on message for - for the Americans.
SANTORUM: Get on message and get - and start delivering for the American public. He's doing some - a lot of good things, but the public doesn't know about it because - well, we're talking about this instead of talking about the things that he's doing. Even today, I mean there are positive stories coming out of the White House. I get them every day. They send them to me. But nobody's talking about them because the president's focused on something else.
BALDWIN: No, there's a huge tech summit. We'll be talking it at 5:00 Eastern today. You know, it was infrastructure last week. It's technology this week.
BALDWIN: Let me end though with Jared Kushner, Lanny, and here's my question on Kushner. You know, and again, to be perfectly clear, we have no indication as far as, you know, that he's a target, so far it appears he's not, of this whole Russia investigation. But he is looking to hire these criminal litigator to beef up his legal team. You know, we had the news last week of the vice president lawyering up. To me this is just getting very real.
DAVIS: Look, in this case, I have to admit to having some just personal instinctive like for Mr. Kushner. He comes across to me, though he doesn't speak much, as a nice young man, as his wife is very impressive. And Ivanka and Jared Kushner should be focused on, as I understand their positions, much more moderate than others in the White House. And the fact that he's going through this, I don't know what he did, is quite troubling. And, unfortunately, the best thing for him, he's got a great lawyer already in Jamie Gorelick. He should probably have a criminal defense lawyer now that he's under a cloud. But the best thing for him, if he's done nothing wrong, he's already volunteered to go to Congress and testify -
DAVIS: And that should be his best course of action. You gave my long- ago book a plug with the mantra of the subtitle, "Tell it Early, Tell it All, Tell it Yourself." That's the best way to handle these types of controversies is transparency with people in your profession.
BALDWIN: All right, Lanny Davis and Senator Santorum, gentlemen, thank you very much.
DAVIS: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Speaking of Kushner, moments ago, the adviser making rare public remarks at the White House. And by rare, I don't think he's spoken publicly since January. We'll listen to him, hear what he said ahead.
Also, in the most expensive House race in history, and the biggest of the Trump presidency, an outrageous new ad links Democrats to the congressional baseball shooting. We'll talk about that.
And, after the U.S. shoots down a Syrian jet for the first time, Russia now warning American planes that they're targets.
[14:15:00] I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN's special live coverage.
BALDWIN: A U.S. fighter jet has shot a Syrian plane out of the sky and now Russia issuing a stern warning. Russia has responded to the incident in northern Syria by putting crosshairs on any coalition plane that violates its air space, saying it will now treat U.S.-led planes in Syria as targets.
Joining me now, retired Lieutenant Colonel Scott Mann, a former Green Beret who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, is the author of "Game Changers: Going Local to Defeat Violent Extremists."
Colonel Mann, welcome back. I know you have said all -
LT. COL. SCOTT MANN, U.S. ARMY SPECIAL FORCES (RETIRED): Hi, Brooke. Thanks for having me.
BALDWIN: You've said all along that sharing air space and battle space with the Russians is essentially a recipe for disaster. How concerned are you about this?
MANN: Well, very. I mean this has the potential to really go high order. But, you're right, I mean this was something I was talking about in "Game Changers" early on when we allowed Russia to have the preeminence of air space that they gained in Syria. I mean you can just kind of see this one coming, Brooke.
And if you think about it at the most basic level, this is the sanctuary for ISIS in and around Raqqa and we have to protect our ground forces and the surrogate forces that we're working with. And so, yes, this - this has the potential to get even more volatile.
BALDWIN: If this were to ratchet up, if Russia were to take down a U.S.-led coalition plane, what would the response be?
[14:20:09] MANN: Well, there would have to be reciprocity then. I mean that's an intolerable action. And this is where it gets really convoluted, Brooke, but I - but I think, at the end of the day, what we have to dig our heals in here, and I'm glad that we allowed our military commanders on the ground to make this call, we have to protect our ground forces and surrogate forces that are operating in this sanctuary from any threat from the sky and the ground. And if Russia were to shoot us down as a targeted action, we would have to respond in kind. And it's an ugly thing, but if we don't establish airspace and battle space where we're operating in the enemy sanctuary, we're not going to be able to get the job done. And we just can't - we cannot do our mission that way.
BALDWIN: What does this - the fact that they made this call tell you about, you know, DOD decisions, military decisions by the Trump administration?
MANN: Well, first of all, it sounds to me like the call was delegated down to the commanders on the ground and in the theater. And that's exactly where it should be. We've held these kinds of decisions, Brooke, at the most strategic and policy levels for too long. And, you know, the battlefield's fluid. I mean, you know that. I mean it's a quick moving thing. It's dynamic. And we need those commanders on the ground to be able to make the call. And I guaranteed you, they tried to put measures in place. They probably tried to put warnings out there. And they - you know, they did what they could and then they had to act in the interest of our troops. And I would think every American would expect that to be the case.
BALDWIN: Also on the ground, though, you have U.S. special forces. We know they're there. And in the wake of this, do you think that they're at increased risk?
MANN: I do. But I also believe this is the way to defeat ISIS. And, again, I talk about this in my book, going local, empowering local communities and surrogate forces to stand up over violent extremism is the way to go. Now, it does come with increased risk. That's why it's so imperative that we protect these warriors on the ground so that they have the cover they need to work by, with and through these forces. We cannot do it without that.
BALDWIN: Retired Lieutenant Colonel Scott Mann, always a pleasure having you on, sir. Thank you very much.
MANN: Thanks, Brooke.
Coming up next, is the White House avoiding the media? The last time the White House held an on-camera briefing, last Monday, one week ago from today. Today, the briefing held off-camera yet again, no audio. We'll talk to the CNN reporter who was actually in the room next.
Also, mystery at sea. New clues into what caused that deadly collision between a U.S. Navy destroyer and a cargo ship off of Japan. You're looking at the damage here. How can this kind of accident be avoided in the future? That's coming up.
[14:27:05] BALDWIN: Just in to CNN, the White House telling reporters in an off-camera briefing a little bit about the possibility of tapes being released perhaps, but it sounds like maybe not a whole lot more. Jim Acosta is our senior White House correspondent who just left this no camera, no audio briefing.
Jim, I just saw your tweet. You said you're feeling like the White House is stonewalling you?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke, I wish we had some video or some audio from this briefing to share with you, but the White House mandated that we are not allowed to covering the White House press secretary for the United States of America in that fashion. And so, yes, when we're asking important questions about where are the tape, does the president have recordings of his conversations here at the White House, the White House is refusing to answer those questions on camera or in any kind of fashion where we can record the audio. My guess is because they want their evasive answers not saved for posterity. That is the only conclusion one could draw. That when they give us answers, that it somehow reads better in print than it can be seen on television or heard over the radio.
There were a number of important questions asked today about the health care bill that is being I guess cobble together in the Senate and what the White House has to say about that. You're not going to hear or see those answers. The question was asked whether the president has the ability to fire the special prosecutor, Robert Mueller. You're not going to be able to hear or see the answers to those questions. You're only going to be able to read about it. And I guess people can say, well, there goes the media again. They're acting like crybabies because they can't cover things the way that they want. But, you know, maybe I'm old-fashioned, Brooke, but I think that the White House for the United States of America should have these questions answered on camera.
BALDWIN: I'm right there with you.
ACOSTA: So we can see what they're saying. And when they don't do this, they're just doing a disservice to the people of this country. And I don't want to sound like I'm getting on my soapbox here, but when, you know, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, who's pretty highly paid for a government officials in this county, comes in and just says, you can't record the video or audio from these briefings, that wouldn't be tolerated at city council meetings or at a governor's press conference. And here we have the representative of the president of the United States saying, no, you can't cover it that way. I just don't know what we're doing. It's not even like we're covering a White House anymore with Kellyanne Conway and Omarosa in the briefing room off to the side of Sean, refusing to be on camera. It's like we're just covering bad reality television is what it feels like now.
BALDWIN: Well, I'm with you. I'm old-fashioned and I stand with you, Jim Acosta. And on this final note of yours and on your evasive answers note, I mean, I understand Sean Spicer gave another evasive answer when it came to the questions on the tapes.
[14:29:54] ACOSTA: That's right. He was asked, because the president said this to us more than a week ago that he was going to answer this question of, where are these tapes? Are there these audio recordings of his conversations over here at the White House. The president said you'd find out about that shortly. More than a week has gone by. We don't have an answer to that. And Sean Spicer said to reporters in this briefing, again, off camera, no audio, that --